Tuesday, March 25, 2014

52 Ancestors: Week 12: Thomas Skidmore, immigrated to America in 1636

The Skidmore Family in England dates back to the year 1086 in Gloucestershire.  Thomas Skidmore, born in 1605, immigrated to America in about 1636 (just 16 years after the Pilgrims on the Mayflower). He was a pioneer in settling several towns in Connecticut with John Winthrop, Jr, who became Connecticut's first governor.

In my research, I came across the work done by Warren Skidmore in 1980.  He did an amazing amount of research about the Skidmores.  There are 9 pages of documented evidence about the life of Thomas Skidmore in Warren Skidmore’s book. Here is a synopsis:
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Thomas had arrived in the Massachusetts area by 10 June 1636.  He made 3 trips back and forth between England and Boston, and then decided to stay.

His wife Ellen and their 4 children (ages 15, 12, 8 and 5) arrived about 1642. Their only child born in America, son John (our ancestor) was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts on 11 April 1643.

Thomas’ home in Cambridge in 1640  stood on a triangular plot.  Today it faces Harvard Square and is occupied by a block of commercial shops serving Harvard University.

Harvard Square (today)

On 1 June 1646, he sold his house at Cambridge to Henry Dunster, the president of Harvard College.  The Skidmores  and about 43 others  joined Gov. Winthrop, Jr in New London, CT.

Thomas Skidmore had just arrived  in New London in 1646, when Uncus, the local Indian chief and about 300 of his tribe descended on a hunting party of Englishmen and friendly Indians from the town who were poaching (in his view) on his private reserve.  The settlers were chased back to the town and an Indian village was destroyed.

Monument to Uncus
By 1649, Thomas had six acres for a home lot and 4 acres of meadow for cattle in New London.

He followed his daughter and son-in-law Edward Higby to Stratford by 1650 and remained in that town for most of the following decade.   His wife Ellen probably died here.  In Nov 1660 he sold “all my accommodation in Stratford” to Alexander Bryan for £60.  Skidmore Hill in Stratford survives as a place name.

He moved to Fairfield and accumulated a number of tracts of land there.  It was there that he married his second wife Joanna who had seven children.  There are many documents settling the affairs as his stepchildren came of age.

Joanna (age 55) left a will and died in about 1667.  She was attended in her last illness by Gov Winthrop, Jr, who in addition to his other talents (first Gov of CT) was the most sought after physician in New England. He kept a case book in which he made brief notes on all his patients.

After the death of his second wife, Thomas went to Huntington, Long Island, across the sound from Fairfield, CT where his son Thomas had settled before him many years previously. Until at least 1682 he maintained “accommodations” in both towns and commuted back and forth.

postcard from the 1930s,
shows the beautiful scenery at Fairfield, CT
His return to Fairfield many have been occasioned by his third marriage.  His new wife Sarah (Thomas was her fourth husband) was the widow of Ralph Keeler who had died in 1672.

Thomas Skidmore died at Fairfield on or just previous to 31 October 1684. Sarah died within a fortnight after her husband died.  The inventory of his estate totaled £64 and it indicates that Thomas had disposed of all his real property before his death.  He was almost 80 at the time of his death, and was survived by all five of his children.

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  • Thomas Skidmore (Scadamore), 1605-1684, of Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, and Fairfield, Connecticut by Warren Skidmore, 1980  https://openlibrary.org/books/OL4164222M/Thomas_Skidmore_(Scudamore)_1605-1684_of_Westerleigh_Gloucestershire_and_Fairfield_Connecticut/borrow
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Harvard_square_2009j.JPG
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncas

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

52 Ancestors, Week 11: The Skidmore Family

Church of St Mary the Virgin in Upton Scudamore. Photo by Neil MacDougall

Click within image to enlarge
The Skidmore family was well documented and a prominent family in England with links all the way back to the year 1086. They are also our link to early America.  The pilgrims arrived in 1620 and our ancestor Thomas Skidmore arrived not long after in 1635.

Our branch of the Scudamores can be traced back to a family that had been living in a town named for them: Upton (higher farm) Scudamore in Wiltshire named in the Domesday Book in 1086.

William I (William the Conqueror) sent his men all over England to find out how much each landholder had in land and livestock and what it was worth.

“At the time of the Domesday survey (1086) Upton was a prosperous parish with a population of approximately 225. Its broad, thin outline spreads over a ridge of greens and, providing excellent pasture for sheep. The survey mentions three holdings. The largest, belonging to Alfred of Marlborough, was worth £9.” [1]

"It is possible that the Skydmores came out from Wiltshire to settle on 18 acres at Westerleigh as tenants in the 1300s. The Skydmores at Westerleigh were substantial yeomen (a commoner who cultivates his own land). The heir in each generation had a freehold (a social rank just under the rank of gentleman) estate at Mayshill which descended from father to son. The younger sons were usually apprenticed to tradesmen having no great prospect of acquiring land." [2]

"Richard Skydmore, was born in Mayshill, Westerleigh, about the year 1480; he was the great great grandfather of Thomas Skidmore (1605-1684) of New England (our immigrant ancestor).

He was ordered by the court of Henry VIII on 29 Sept 1539 to make a ditch from Vern Hill to Skydmore’s Gate under pain of forfeiting 3 shillings, 4 pence if he did not comply.

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2nd generation: John Skydmore born 1510 at Mayshill, Westerleigh, is listed in a muster taken in 1542 as an able archer.

3rd generation: William born about 1545 at Mayshill, Westerleigh.  His estate was administered by his son John on 30 Nov 1615. The estate was apparently of a respectable size, worth 40 pounds sterling.

4th generation: Richard born about 1580 at Mayshill, Westerleigh.  He married Annes Lawrence, on 4 Sept 1604.  Three months later on 12 Dec they were presented to the “Bawdy Court” on a suspicion of incontinence before marriage.  It was likely that Annes Skimore was already visibly pregnant.

Less than two years later, Richard Skidmore, carpenter, was dead, probably after an accident as his will states that he was ‘broke in body’. He left a will stating that all of his estate was to be divided between his wife and his son Thomas.  He was buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucestershire on 25 November 1606." [2]
Holy Trinity Church, Westbury on Trym
By Steinsky via Wikimedia Commons

5th generation: Thomas (our immigrant ancestor) was born at Mayshill in Westerleigh, Gloucestershire, probably in the spring of 1605.

His father died very shortly after he was born in 1606. His mother remarried John Cooke in 1608 and they had 8 children. "Presumably he lived with his mother and stepfather, but there were probably interludes back at Westerleigh with his grandfather and his uncle Thomas Skidmore.  At one of these places he had some formal schooling for he could both read and write, and he also learned the art of blacksmithing.” [2]

Thomas (age 22) married Ellen (20) in about 1626.

Thomas acquired a 99 year leasehold that included an orchard and a garden on Westerleigh Street in Westerleigh.

On 22 Mar 1630/1, Thomas and his uncle Thomas are mentioned in the ‘Court Book of Westerleigh for 1625-1653.’ They were present at the sitting of the manorial court and were fined a small sum for expenses of the court.

By 10 June 1636, Thomas has arrived in America… (to be continued)

  • [1] http://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getcom.php?id=231
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domesday_Book
  • http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Domesday-book-1804x972.jpg
  • http://www.domesdaymap.co.uk/place/ST8647/upton-scudamore/
  • [2] Skidmore, Warren, “Thomas Skidmore (Scudamore), 1605-1684, of Westerleigh, Gloucestershire and Fairfield, Connecticut; his ancestors and his descendants to the ninth generation.” Published 1980.  https://openlibrary.org/books/OL4164222M
  • Mayshill or Mays Hill is a hamlet located in the Parish of Westerleigh, South Gloucestershire, England. Despite its size the hamlet contains a pub, dating from the 16th Century.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayshill

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: Week 10: Joseph P McAninch

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Joseph was born 2 Apr 1821 in Casey, Kentucky.

At age 24, he married Elizabeth Jane Quiett (19) on 21 May 1845 in Paris, Illinois.  All in all, they had 12 children: 9 boys and 3 girls.

In 1850, Joseph (29) was a tanner in Center, Indiana, with 3 children.

In 1861, the Civil War started.

In June 1863, Joseph registered for the war, at age 42.

On 20 Dec 1864, a call was made, (18 months after Joseph registered) for eleven regiments for one year's service, and recruits were forwarded to Indianapolis.

At age 43, Joseph left his wife and 9 children to serve in the Union Army:  Company B of the 148th Indiana Infantry. He entered as a Private and was promoted to Corporal.

The 148th was mustered in on Feb. 25 and left the state 3 days later for Nashville. They were constantly employed on guard and garrison duty in central Tennessee until they mustered out on Sept. 5, 1865. The original strength was 975 + 52 recruits = 1,027. Loss by death = 36 (34 by disease); desertion = 75.
  • On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House.
  • On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a Southern sympathizer. Lincoln died early the next morning, and Andrew Johnson became president. 
  • On May 9, 1865, President Johnson officially declared a virtual end to the insurrection.
  • On June 23, 1865, Cherokee leader Stand Watie was the last Confederate General to surrender his forces.   
  • On Sept. 5, 1865, the 148th Indiana Infantry finally got to go home. 
Sadly, their 2 year old Charles, died while Joseph was serving with the 148th.  How difficult that must have been for Elizabeth, and difficult for Joseph to learn about when he got home.

Shortly after the war, Joseph, Elizabeth and family moved to Ringgold County in Iowa to farm and that’s where their twin boys Sheridan and Sherman were born.  (children  #11 and #12)

Elizabeth Jane Quiett and Joseph P McAninch
Side by Side
Joseph and Elizabeth were married for 60 years!

Joseph died on 9 Mar 1907 at age 85.

Elizabeth died 6 years later on 15 May 1913 at age 87.


  • US Federal Census: 1850, 1870, 1880, 1900
  • Illinois Marriages to 1850
  • US Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865
  • US Civil War Draft Registration Records, 1863-1865
  • US Civil War Pension Index
  • Iowa, Cemetery Records,1662-1999
  • Iowa, Find a  Grave Index
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_War
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/148th_Indiana_Infantry_Regiment
  • http://www.civilwarindex.com/armyin/148th_in_infantry.html
  • http://www.civilwararchive.com/Unreghst/unininf8.htm#148th

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

52 Ancestors: Week 9: Bartholomeus Schenckel

As I was researching the Shinkles, I came upon more information about the family.  We know that the Shinkles (Schenckels) came to America from Germany, but it turns out they came from Switzerland before that. There is evidence of 6 more generations of Schenckels.  I have not seen the documentation myself, so I am not 100% sure of this research, but I feel comfortable that there is a good chance that these are the right connections.

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A couple of the generations seem to be well documented and provide really great stories!

Bartholomeus Schenckel (my 11th great grandfather)

Biography Translation of Stanley E. Masson of material received from Germany:
  • Christened on 1 May 1560 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland 
  • Teacher at Bergzabern, Germany
  • Looked after the needs of the castle at Stein and Hemmenthal. (not sure where this might be:  there are two castles in Schaffhausen: Munot Fortress and Laufen Castle)
  • Munot Fortress, Schaffhausen
  • 1605: Started school (they probably mean: Seminary)
  • 1609: Assistant Pastor at the Kathedral
  • 1610: Pastor at Neunkirch, where he had several brawls. His sermons encouraged upheaval, he also lent corn at usury prices and hunted in forests belonging to others until he was caught  in 1619. He lost his position and was sent to Merishausen on probation where he stayed.
  • 1618: Pastor at Merishausen, celebrated there in 1640 his Golden (wedding) Anniversary and in 1647 when he was 88 years old, he held the sermon at the Synod. He was a very robust and resolute man. 
  • 1633 on his way from the Synod - was stopped and robbed by an Imperial Rider at the Geysshof. He pretended to be poor and stupid and - while dropping his coins piece by piece into the rider's hand - he watched for the moment when the rider looked at the coins, grabbed his leg and heaved him out of the saddle, threw him to the other side and quickly jumped on the horse, galloping back to town, descending in front of the Herrengaertchen (place where men gathered?) where his colleagues were still assembled. 
  • 1637: he bought a house 'in the Steig' which is a suburb of Schaffhausen. (for Peter)
  • July 3, 1641 a gang of robbers broke into his house and inflicted heavy loss.

Old Town in Schaffhausen, Switerland

1648: He wrote a Will, which details his son Ludwig's bad behavior toward his other son Peter.  It makes for a good story!

Will Translation by Stanley E. Masson  (excerpts)
This letter (by) the honorable and scholarly Mr. Bartholome Schenckel, our faithful and beloved citizen, at this time Pastor at Merishusen,…there is nothing more certain than death and nothing more uncertain than the hour of it. Therefore he decided after the deathly attack, …also while still in good mental health and intelligence and being still quite able-bodied to establish a will, ...in order to prevent possible future tensions among his children after his death.

However, as my sons are not acting like brothers toward each other and are fighting terribly about the inheritance, and Ludwig took advantage of me, his father, and taking by his fraud the whole house, front and back, which has four rooms. And he expulsed his brother Peter and threw him out permanently.

He did not want Peter to have a room to himself (of which there are three), and I had to buy him a small house extra (Although Peter, an uneducated, poor and oppressed man, did not want to lose what had been given to him, yet he had to sell his little house on the Steige due to his poverty and the hunger of his family.)

So that Peter, his four children (it is not known if two of them are dead or alive) and his wife have a roof over their head and do not have to live miserably in the street - as his brother won't have him in his pleasant home - and so that they will not be robbed of their ancestral home which has been in the Schenckel family for two hundred years (back to 1448) according to nearly all documents, I give to Peter and his heirs my small house in back.

Only the books and what goes with them in the little house shall be sold by a trader in Merishusen and the resulting money be evenly divided.

On the other hand I give to Ludwig all of the front part of the house with all three rooms, bedrooms, small rooms, basement, top floor. I have remodeled it so that anyone living in the back part of the house can pass through the front part, to the well, to church, to the market according to his need 24 hours a day without bothering the inhabitants.

Whosoever does not like this disposition may sell or keep his part without damage to the other.

The rest of the household, the investment in the hospital shall be divided peacefully and brotherly and they shall live their lives as Christian brothers.

I, Bartholome Schenckel, their father, have written this document truthfully in this bad form with my own hand and sealed it with my own signet.

This document which has been legally sealed with the secret seal of our town of Schaffhausen on this Monday, the 28th of February, one thousand six hundred and forty eight after the birth of our Redeemer."

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Bartholomeus' son Hans Ludwig (my 10th great grandfather) who was mentioned above (the bad brother)
Research of Rhoda E. Clarkson who has a letter on file from Stadt Schaffhausen Stadtarchiv and Research of Daniel Monroe Gwin, Salt Lake City, Utah (1998)
  • In 1653 he is mentioned as a wine grower at Edenkoben. (We can assume that he sold the "front house" in Schaffhausen after his father died. In addition, his descendants lived in Edenkoben for about 100 years until they came to America in 1752.)
  • In 1654 he was imprisoned in his hometown Schaffhausen, Switzerland. During his absence in Schaffhausen, his wife committed adultery with their farm-hand. 
  • Hans Ludwig was looking for and had continuous quarrels and in 1655 he was finally condemned to the Spital in chains. (*Spital should mean Hospital, but apparently in those days in that area it was not only a hospital but also a jail) 
  • Hearing the sentence, he said: 'not even Pontius Pilate gave such a bad verdict. Hell is already more than full, do you really want to force me into there also?'
  • Ludwig died before 1665.

Research of Rhoda E. Clarkson who has a letter on file from Stadt Schaffhausen Stadtarchiv
Research of Daniel Monroe Gwin, Salt Lake City, Utah (1998)
BIOGRAPHY Translation by Stanley E. Masson of material received from Germany.


* my comments are in blue